Monday, 9 February 2015

Anatomy Of A Misfit - Andrea Portes; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (25 Sept 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062366777
ISBN-13: 978-0062366771
Source: Purchased/Review/Gift

Book Summary:

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between. 

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I have a thing for books with quirky titles and that was the main reason I was drawn to this book. The second of course, being the blurb, especially as soon as I read the words “if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian)”. These kinda one liners always hook me in. I settled in with this book while at work last week and spent every lunch break or spare moment I got, devouring it. 

Right from page one, I was undeniably drawn in. I absolutely loved Anika’s voice, her sarcasm, her wit, her honesty, she’s my kinda gal (after all - “on the outside I look like vanilla pudding so nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.” - basically me). She was hilarious and I felt like I really got her - that dark but honest humour. I followed her story with interest, with a refreshed mind as she rolled her way through high school. 

Rather than cast her as a total outsider, we see Anika as the 3rd girl in the hierarchy triangle of high school power-play and thanks to this, we get an inside glimpse into an honest and in some places, realistic depiction of how some bonds need to be maintained in order to stay afloat. Of course Anika felt reluctance at being part of this group, where the head position went to Becky Vilaheur, the popular one, the “Queen Bee” - where being a bitch came with the title - and though some may resent Anika for not breaking free, I feel like it’s a more real deal in how Anika sticks with it, just to float through high school while she can yet at the same time, does what she can from the good of her heart to help those who were or are going to be trampled over by Becky. Anika may consider herself to be spider stew inside, but I think she really is vanilla pudding because 1) she cares 2) she acts on that (in many instances we see) and 3) because really she’s just a normal girl living a normal-ish life. 

When entered the oddball turned hottie, Logan - we see Anika battle internally and externally, with her heart and her mind - should she ditch the hierarchy and be seen with Logan and follow her heart, or should she stay with her group and survive school?

Yes there are moments which I know reviewers have criticised, such as the cliched stereotype of Anika being Romanian, hence the Dracula jokes about her Dad and the castle etc - but for me personally, I felt these parts weren’t meant to be taken too seriously - because there was a bigger picture to view in this story. Yet none of that dampened the humour, which like I said, was totally up my street. The writing was fluid, easy to get through and tried none of those attempts at being complicated and poetic. It is what it is. 

The characters really made this book for me, the way in which Anika wasn’t consumed by her feelings for Logan and managed to hold her own character. Her internal dialogue and her thought ramblings about life and everything else seemed sharp, clear, unclouded, even when it came to hottie Jared Kline - she knew who he was, what his game was, and though it did grind on me a little bit that despite knowing what Jared was like and most famously known for, she was willing to get involved with him. But then I tell myself, that this is the allure of the badboys, you may know it’s best not to get involved, yet you can’t help yourself. That’s exactly what Anika did.

I picked this book up expecting a hilarious and honest read - which I got. But what I didn’t expect was the ending, which I swear to God, slapped me in the face so had my teeth rattled. I did not see that coming. This isn’t just a fluffy fun read, but rather the author has managed to weave in some important issues in to this book about life, bullying, anger and abuse. And just like in life, it hits you when you least expect it.

This book packed quite a punch for me. Even after reading some other reviews and finding myself agreeing with some of the criticisms made, I can’t bring myself to highlight those in my own ramblings, but rather the laughter this story gave me, sticks with me more, and the solemn ending, that is guaranteed to make you remember this book. 

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